10 Great Modern Martial Arts Movies To Watch After ‘The Finale’

Since its launch in 2008, the Ip-Man series has been a favorite among action movie aficionados. Based on the life of the Wing Chun master of the same name and directed by Wilson Yip, Hong Kong star actor, martial artist and stuntman Donnie Yen, who found his signature role in the series.

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The light at Ip Man 4: The Finale Hit the streaming services, fans may be craving for heart-pounding martial arts action to ease the loss. Below we have ten modern martial arts movies that will do the trick.

ten Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior (2003)


When a precious Buddha statue is stolen from the impoverished village of Ban Nong Pradu, a fighter named Ting (Tony Jaa) makes it his mission to recover it. His search leads him to Bangkok in the clutches of the cruel drug baron, Don (Wannakit Sirioput).

Although it’s not a great movie on its own, Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior served as a release party for Tony Jaa, an action star who deserves to be mentioned alongside big names such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li.

9 The Protector (2005)


Kham (Tony Jaa) is the latest in the line of family warriors who have sworn to protect Thailand’s war elephants. Having grown up close with two elephants in particular, Por Yai and Kohrn, he is enraged when they are stolen by a gang of poachers. With the help of an Australian detective (Petchtai Wongkamlao), Kham tracks the Down-Under pachyderms where he must battle a dangerous gang led by a cruel villain (Xing Jin) to retrieve them.

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Another Tony Jaa vehicle that ups the ante with a wild plot and wilder characterizations, The protector delivers the goods with a generous sprinkling of crushed bones.


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8 Kiltro (2006)


The brutal Zamir (Marko Zarar) is deeply in love with Kim (Caterina Jadresic), but can only show his affection by physically attacking any man who shows interest in her. When a rival (Miguel Angel De Luca) shows up seeking revenge on his father, Zamir sees an opportunity to win his heart on his own terms.

This Chilean action effort heralded Zarar’s name on the international action scene. Influenced by spaghetti westerns and featuring an unforgettable fight in a stabbing alley, Kiltro is a martial arts film with its own unique flavor.


7 Chocolate (2008)


The fruit of a romance between a Japanese gangster and his Thai mother, Zen (Yanin “Jeeja” Vismistananda) grows up struggling with autism. Despite her struggles, her condition allows her to become an unstoppable martial arts master with incredible skills that are put to the test when she sets out to settle the debts owed to her critically ill mother.

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This quirky and melodramatic Thai actor may not win any awards for his portrayal, but he’s a brutally handsome dose of girl power in a very masculine genre.


6 True Legend (2010)


Having retired from a career as a military general to raise his family, Su Qi-Er’s life is left in tatters when his adoptive brother, Yuan Lie, flees with his son and leaves him for dead. Determined to retrieve his son and defeat his brother, Su Qi-Er embarks on a training program in which he receives visions of the mythological “God of Wushu” and the “Old Sage” who train him in the art of drunken boxing.

Famous Hong Kong choreographer Yuen Woo-ping (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) returns to the world of Drunken Boxing, which he first introduced to popular culture in the 1978 comedy, Drunken Master– with a much more epic and sober treatment of the martial art.


5 The Raid: Redemption (2011)


Working from information about this infamous crime lord, Tama (Ray Sahetapy) is locked away in a dilapidated skyscraper, a team of commandos are tasked with eliminating him at all costs. But when Tama realizes what is happening, he offers sanctuary to all the crouching criminals in the building in exchange for the commandos’ lives. Now it’s up to rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais) to rally the panicked squad and fight their way to Tama at all costs.

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A relentless Indonesian actioner without an ounce of grease on it, The Raid: Redemption proves that a movie can only be fight sequences and still be considered a masterpiece.


4 Reign of the Assassins (2010)


A former assassin-turned-trader (Michelle Yeoh) takes up the sword when her former colleagues show up to claim the remains of Bodhi, a Buddhist monk whose remains are said to have mystical powers.

Movie superstar John Woo was one of three directors in this classic swordplay effort that may not be among his finest works, but still solidifies as a well-made modern image of Wuxia.




3 The Grand Master (2013)


Another film based on the true story of Ip-Man, the grand master is set during the last days of the last Chinese dynasty and stars Tony Leung Chiu-wai as the legendary Wing Chun master.

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Wong Kar-wai (love mood) brings an auteur look at his country’s action cinema, elevating the Hong Kong action model to elegant and dizzying heights.


2 Tai Chi Man (2013)


A student of Tai Chi, Tiger Chen Linhu (Tiger Chen) uses his martial arts tactics in combat against his master’s wishes. When the temple he trains at is threatened with closure, his skills are put to the test at an underground fight club run by Donaka (Keanu Reeves), who promises him much-needed financial rewards based on his performance.

Working both in front of and behind the camera, Reeves’ directorial debut is a flawed but enjoyable throwback effort to the glory days of ’70s martial arts movies.


1 The Killer (2015)


In 9th century China, Nie Yinniang, the daughter of a general, is kidnapped and trained in the ways of the assassin by a nun, who orders her to kill filthy government officials. When she comes of age, Nie (Shu Qui) fails to complete a mission, resulting in a punishment in which she is ordered to kill her fiancé.

Though icy-paced, Hsiao-hsien Hou’s The murderer is a haunting and worthwhile work of art.

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About the Author

Kimberly B. Nguyen